US President Barack Obama urged members of Congress on Saturday to defend Wall Street reform, arguing the recovering US economy cannot take the risk of lax oversight over the financial sector.
“That’s why it’s so important that members of Congress stand on the side of reform, not against it,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
“Because we can’t afford to go back to an era of weak regulation and little oversight, where excessive risk-taking on Wall Street and a lack of basic oversight in Washington nearly destroyed our economy,” Obama said.
The comments came as members of the Senate prepared to hold hearings about recently-announced massive losses by investment bank JPMorgan Chase, which saw more than $2 billion disappear in derivatives trading.
Obama called the incident “a big mistake.”
“While that bank can handle a loss of that size, other banks may not have been able to,” he said. “And without Wall Street reform, we could have found ourselves with the taxpayers once again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes.”
The reform, signed by Obama into law in July 2010, introduced new capital requirements for banks and insurance companies as well as regulations of hedge funds. It also required reporting on executive pay and provided incentives to promote banking among low- and medium-income residents.
Obama said that over the past two years, many Republicans in Congress and an financial industry lobbyists have been waging “an all-out battle” to “delay, defund, and dismantle” the reform.
“We’ve got to keep moving forward,” the president said. “We’ve got to finish the job of implementing this reform and putting these rules in place.”